CHENNAI: At least 500 Indians, mostly comprising of Kailash Manasarovar pilgrims, are believed to be stranded in the mountainous regions of Simikot in Nepal after all flights to and from the region were
cancelled due to bad weather conditions.
On Monday morning, 56-year-old Leela Namboodiripad, died of cardiac arrest, a day after their flight was cancelled.
"The cardiac arrest is said to be because of the low oxygen levels here. We were supposed to leave from here yesterday but were unable to do so because all flights have been cancelled," Sethu Mahadevan,
Leela's husband told Express.
The couple, natives of Wandoor town in Malappuram district in Kerala, was part of a group of 41 Kailash Manasarovar pilgrims, who started their trip on June 22. The group had returned from Manasarovar on
Sunday and were waiting for a flight out of Simikot to reach Nepalgunj via which tourists fly to Kathmandu.
While pilgrims have found shelter in roadside shops converted to accommodate them and the local hotels for now, the weather has been taking its toll on those stranded, especially the older pilgrims, said those stranded.
Said Deenadhayalan, a resident of Villivakkam, who has been stranded in Simicot for the fifth day on Monday, "For now, we have found food and shelter but many Indians are stuck here, wearing the same clothes for a week now."
Deenadhayalan was part of a group of 23, who started from Chennai on June 20th and were scheduled to return to the city on 28th June. The flight that they had initially booked to Nepalgunj was canceled after
employees of the private airline went on a strike and subsequent flights were canceled due to bad weather, he said.
Meanwhile, local tour operators who have been coordinating rescue activities said that they were looking to arrange special aeroplanes and helicopter flights at an added cost of Rs 11,000 per individual.
However, the plans had not materialised as of then, they said.
In a similar situation in May 2016, around 500 Kailash Manasarovar pilgrims were stranded in Hilsa and Simikot in Nepal and were later evacuated.
Several pilgrims bound for Mount Kailash and Manasarovar in China's Tibet Autonomous Region take the Nepalgunj- Simikot- Hilsa route.
Since road connectivity in the region is weak, pilgrims solely rely on air services where they are flown from Nepalgunj to Simikot and later reach Hilsa via foot or helicopter services.